Saturday, March 4, 2006 (Mumbai): At least 760 striking resident doctors in Maharashtra have been issued termination notices by health authorities.
The ongoing strike entered its sixth straight day on Saturday. According to reports, 450 doctors of the BMC-run hospitals in Mumbai and 310 from the Sasson Hospital in Pune, have been given the notices. In all, 1,400 striking registered resident doctors and resident medical officers (RMOs) are participating in the strike. The doctors started their indefinite strike on February 27 demanding adequate security against attack by patients’ relatives and an increase in stipend.
Nationwide effect –Following the strike, patients at the state-run hospitals in Mumbai have been severely affected. In Aurangabad, 65-year-old army veteran Rangnath Jadhav, who has fought many a war, is now battling for survival. Jadhav, who is a cancer patient, was admitted 15 days ago to Aurangabad’s Medical College Hospital for radiotherapy treatment. But just before the therapy could begin, the hospital’s 225 residents doctors went on strike.Jadhav’s story echoes at civic hospitals across rural Maharashtra, where resident doctors are the backbone of the public health care system.
Patients upset — Similar cases were witnessed in Pune also. Asha Pawar, a resident of Talegaon-Dabadhe, a small village in western Maharashtra, recently delivered a baby at the Sasson Hospital. She was asked to come back on Saturday for a post pregnancy procedure, only to be told to come back another time. "They are asking us to come back another day or else go to a private doctor. We have come from so far and spent money on it. Where will we get money for a private doctor now?" said Ashok Pawar, Asha’s husband.
Signs of compromise – In Mumbai, which is the ground zero of the strike, there are signs of a possible compromise. "The government has agreed to our demands. We just need to get it in writing before we call off our strike," said Yoganand Patil, Gen Secretary, Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors (MARD). The written assurance may finally put an end to the misery of thousands of patients across Maharashtra.